The Site

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Château de Bonneval

The château sits on a slightly elevated position in the centre of the village, providing commanding views in all directions. Although it has been a stately home since the late 18th century, previously, as a military establishment, it formed part of a strategically important defensive line of fortresses, protecting access to Aquitaine. And what are now pleasant country vistas would have been, at that time, lines of defensive observation and even fire.

The ground immediately surrounding the château is primarily laid to lawn, edged with lavender and fir trees as well as stands of oak, chestnut and lime trees. These gardens hide some intriguing old buildings, including a small family chapel. Beyond these are the farm fields, home to the estate’s herd of the famously red, Limousin cattle.

Family Chapel

It is believed that the first château was built by a knight ancestor of the Bonneval family in 930 AD, on a site which had been a Gallo-Roman villa. This link with the earlier Roman occupation of Gaul is evinced by the famous abbreviation S.P.Q.R (Senatus, Populous, Que Romanus) being included in not only, the engraving of the Bonneval family crest above the Main Entrance of the château, dating from the 16th century; but also, on the tomb of Bernard de Bonneval, in Limoges Cathedral; who was bishop of Limoges from 1390 until his death in 1403.

This earlier 10th century holdfast was extensively rebuilt in 1350 as an impeccable example of the quadrilateral castle form, combining curtail walls with four massive round towers, each oriented to the four cardinal points of the compass; encircled by moats.

The château has changed a lot over time, and as a result, provides examples of different architectures and styles from a wide range of historic periods. Each generation of Bonneval has made changes and improvements, a process which continues to this day. The present organisation of the château is primarily due to the major rebuild and renovation projects undertaken by the Bonneval residents of the day, during the 12th, 14th and 18th centuries.

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